Cardinal Homes could increase jobs

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, February 21, 2018

According to Cardinal Homes CEO Bret Berneche, the Wylliesburg-based company could see an increase in jobs for the county soon.

“We now have the opportunity to rebuild,” said Berneche.

He noted Cardinal Homes was completed in Wylliesburg in 2006.

“I believe the right decision back in the early 2000s was to build a factory in Charlotte County,” he said.

However, he said the Great Recession came about, and although he still believes it was the right decision to build in the county, the timing could have been better.

But Berneche said Cardinal Homes is hiring again, with new hires starting last week. Currently, the team is at 75 people.

“Before the crash, we had over 260 employees,” he said.

Berneche said Cardinal Homes recently took an order from a North Carolina developer for 192 hotel guest room modules.

“This could be the first of many hotel projects that would originate in Charlotte County,” he said.

In addition, Berneche said a second hotel from the same developer is destined for Georgia and is set to start immediately after the first hotel is completed.

He also said the developer has presented Cardinal Homes with a letter of intent to purchase modules for 11 different projects over the course of 2018-19 that would provide more than 1,000 hotel guest rooms and 2,000 apartments in the next two years.

Berneche said the developer has a plan to continue developing at the same pace over the course of the next seven years.

“Cardinal is also working through an agreement with a different developer to sell 328 modules for three different apartment buildings in South Carolina,” he said.

He said Cardinal Homes has signed both agreements and has received initial payments.

“I’m thrilled to be standing here today to share good news after so many years of negative,” Berneche said.

He said Cardinal Homes could be back to pre-recession employment as early as the end of this year.

“Our plan is not quite that aggressive, but the orders are there,” he said.

Additionally, he said the mock-up for the first hotel is already on the factory floor. The first hotel will be for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). According to IHG’s website, the brand has hotels such as the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza on its roster. The second hotel will be for a Hilton and the third will be for a Hyatt. However, he said Cardinal Homes is not limited to hotel room production.

Berneche said that “2017 was a significant rebuilding year at Cardinal.”

He said the traditional business at Cardinal Homes, which focuses on single-family dwellings, grew a total of 57 percent and is currently on track to grow an additional 100 percent in 2018.

“Cardinal will be moving as quickly as possible, and the county’s help will be instrumental,” said Berneche. Help with the pending ramp-up would include recruiting/training new employees, as well as providing additional required equipment.

He said the positive local impact could extend to other area businesses, including Siteline Cabinets, located in Keysville. Berneche said a relationship is being developed to purchase cabinets produced in Keysville.

Charlotte County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Walker said, “We’ll certainly be in touch with you … as we have partnered in the past, and we look forward to partnering in the future.”

Phenix/Aspen Supervisor Donna Fore extended an offer of assistance from the board.

“… I’m really encouraged by this plan that you have, and it’s great to hear there are going to be more jobs in the county …” she said.

According to information provided by Cardinal Homes, “the company produces high-performance modular building system/components for a network of independent home builders to improve cycle time and reduce builder risk.”